Bonn, Germany, May 27, 2008 (IUCN) – The need for action and better management of the world’s oceans has never been more pressing, says IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
According to IUCN’s Red List, an increasing number of oceanic species are threatened or near threatened with extinction. In addition, many habitats are under increasing threats.
“Despite some progress here at the CBD meeting in Bonn, we need concrete action, not more talk,” says IUCN’s Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “In particular, the situation of high seas biodiversity has reached a critical point and the patchy governance system of our oceans has been an obstacle to action for too long.”
This COP, the last before 2010, provides the final opportunity for countries to agree plans to honour their commitments to reduce biodiversity loss by 2010 and to establish networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), including areas beyond national jurisdiction, by 2012. Unless urgent progress is made, IUCN estimates the 2012 goal won’t be met till 2060 at the earliest, half a century past the agreed target.
States at CBD are considering the adoption of criteria for selecting important areas in need of protection.
“An agreement on these criteria isn’t enough, we also need countries to take steps now to actually identify these areas and then cooperate to make sure they get protected,” says Imène Meliane, IUCN’s Marine Policy Coordinator. “We know enough about the oceans to act now, we can no longer afford to wait.”
IUCN is also concerned about the increasing number of unregulated and illegal activities in areas beyond national jurisdiction. States have a responsibility under international law, including the CBD and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to control the activities of their citizens, corporations and ships to prevent damage to the environment in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
“While IUCN welcomes technological innovation we need to put a hold on potentially harmful new technologies that seek to use the oceans as a storage bin for excess carbon dioxide, such as ocean fertilization, until we can be sure they work without undermining the oceans as we know them,” says Kristina Gjerde, IUCN’s High Seas Policy Advisor.
“Failure to act at this COP will signal a step backward from the commitments made in previous COPs and a weakening of the role of the Convention in safeguarding marine biodiversity,” adds Julia Marton-Lefèvre.
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